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Solar panels take advantage of a powerful yet free energy source - the sun. In a single hour, the sun transmits more energy to the earth's surface than the world uses in a year. Our guide outlines how you can use solar panels to make use of this free source of energy to generate electricity and hot water for your home. Types of solar panels The two main types of active solar panel systems are monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels (also known as multicrystalline).
Solar panels are not batteries, actually, they are just solar power generators, they cannot store energy. they always require a battery / battery bank for power storage. Solar panels generate electricity when they are exposed to light. When this exposure is no longer available (eg. if a cover is placed on a solar panel or during the night) they stop generating electricity immediately.
Solar panels can work in normal daylight and cloudy weather but compare to the bright sunny day, the output will be lower. While in the bright sunny day, solar panels can achieve max output. and also when you use your solar panels to charge a battery, the charging time will be shortened on a bright sunny day.
Solar panels will achieve more energy than putting the solar panels inside the window even if there are a lot of sunlight inside. Some of the solar cells will probaly shaded which will reduces the efficiency of the soalr panels and put some strain on shaded solar cells to pass current generated by sunlit solar cells. If you are considering putting a solar panel inside the caravan or boat next to the window, think about that why not put it outside and get more power.
The answer is No. The reason is that 10W solar panel is not powerful enough. To power a heavy power consumption heater, it needs at least 1000W- this is 100 - 200 times more than a 10W solar panel can produce in 1 hour. So it would be a major mismatch between the power output of your solar panel and power consumption of the heater.
In addition, only a few appliances can be connected to a solar panel directly without a battery. Basically, they are DC appliances like DC bulbs, DC fans etc. These are appliances not sensitive to changes in input voltage and power (output of solar panel fluctuates due to changes in sunlight exposure). One example,12V DC bulb which can be connected to 10W 18V solar panel directly. Most other appliances will require a battery as a power source and a solar charge controller to stabilize the power.
Let us get more details of 18V solar panel, It usually contains 36pcs 0.5V solar cells, and connect them in series making an 18V solar panel, or it contains more solar cells, by combination of series and parallel of solar cells making an 18V solar panel. As it has been designed to 12V battery, the 18V solar panel is also known as "12V" solar panel.
The panels need to provide some extra voltage so that when the sun is low in the sky, or you have heavy haze, cloud cover, or high temperatures, you still get some output from the panel. A fully charged "12-volt" battery is around 12.7 volts at rest (around 13.6 to 14.4 under charge), so the panel has to put out at least that much under worst case conditions.
Obviously, the answer to this question is "Yes". We must use higher voltage solar panel to charge the battery, at the same time we also need a solar charge controller which can stabilize voltage at a certain level to avoid damaging the battery.
Generally, You'll need a solar panel system which generates electricity, an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced from the photovoltaic cells into alternating current (AC) used by your home. You may also need extension cables when there is a distance between the solar panel system and your house.
Some people are wondering if the battery is necessary? A grid-tie system is working without battery. The solar panels generate electricity, then feedback to the grid and reverse the reading on your net meter and cut your bill. The battery is not a necessity, but you can add battery as a backup power supply, energy can be stored via solar charge controller when you don’t want to transport the power from the solar panel to the national grid.
A charge controller is an essential part of nearly all power systems that charge batteries, whether the power source is PV, wind, hydro, fuel, or utility grid. Its purpose is to keep your batteries properly fed and safe for the long term. The basic functions of a controller are quite simple. Charge controllers block reverse current and prevent battery overcharge. Some controllers also prevent battery over discharge, protect from electrical overload, and/or display battery status and the flow of power. Let's examine each function individually.
A charge controller may be used to power DC equipment with solar panels. .The charge controller provides a regulated DC output and stores excess energy in a battery as well as monitoring the battery voltage to prevent under/overcharging. Most "12 volts" panels put out about 16 to 20 volts, so if there is no regulation the batteries will be damaged from overcharging. Most batteries need around 14 to 14.5 volts to get fully charged. Generally, there is no need for a charge controller with the small maintenance, or trickle charge panels, such as the 1 to 5-watt panels.
After you read this, you may also come out another question "why aren't panels just made to put out 12 volts". The reason is that if you do that, the panels will provide power only when cool, under perfect conditions, and full sun. This is not something you can count on in most places. The panels need to provide some extra voltage so that when the sun is low in the sky, or you have heavy haze, cloud cover, or high temperatures, you still get some output from the panel. A fully charged "12-volt" battery is around 12.7 volts at rest (around 13.6 to 14.4 under charge), so the panel has to put out at least that much under worst-case conditions.
Pulse Width Modulation Controller (PWM)
PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation. Quite a few charge controls have a "PWM" mode. PWM is often used as one method of float charging. Instead of a steady output from the controller, it sends out a series of short charging pulses to the battery - a very rapid "on-off" switch. The controller constantly checks the state of the battery to determine how fast to send pulses, and how long (wide) the pulses will be. In a fully charged battery with no load, it may just "tick" every few seconds and send a short pulse to the battery. In a discharged battery, the pulses would be very long and almost continuous, or the controller may go into "full on" mode. The controller checks the state of charge on the battery between pulses and adjusts itself each time.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
The power point tracker is a high-frequency DC to DC converter. They take the DC input from the solar panels, change it to high-frequency AC, and convert it back down to a different DC voltage and current to exactly match the panels to the batteries.
Maximum Power Point Tracking is electronic tracking - usually digital. The charge controller looks at the output of the panels and compares it to the battery voltage. It then figures out what is the best power that the panel can put out to charge the battery. It takes this and converts it to best voltage to get maximum AMPS into the battery. (Remember, it is Amps into the battery that counts). Most modern MPPT's are around 93-97% efficient in the conversion. You typically get a 20 to 45% power gain in winter and 10-15% in summer. Actual gain can vary widely depending weather, temperature, battery state of charge, and other factors.
MPPT stands for Maximum Power Point Tracker. This is a new highly efficient technology of solar charge controllers which allow them to track the Maximum Power Point (peak of the current-voltage curve) of solar panels as it varies with sunshine exposure and temperature. In other words, it allows solar controllers to extract as much power as possible from the solar panel in the current conditions.
MPPT solar charge controllers can also boost the charging current. For example, if the maximum current of a solar panel is 5A, a standard solar charge controller would always charge 12V leisure battery at 5A or less (depending on light), while MPPT solar charge controller would increase this current to about 6A-7A or sometimes even more.
MPPT solar controllers are more expensive than standard controllers, however for certain solar systems they are the only choice. The most common example of this is in systems where the nominal voltage of solar panels is significantly higher than the battery voltage (e.g. using a 36-60V solar panel to charge a 12V battery). In this situation an MPPT would be the only solution, because a regular solar charge controller will have very low efficiency in such systems.
Yes, generally it is possible. However there are some points which you need to take into consideration:
When your battery remains connected to the system of your boat / vehicle, there might be some power drain from the battery, which means the efficiency of charging by solar panel may be reduced.
When you start an engine with a generator or use an external mains charger to top up your battery, then the voltage in the battery circuit will increase. As a result, the solar controller might treat this as if the battery was fully charged and cut the solar panel off temporarily. When the engine / external mains charging stops, the solar controller will resume charging by solar panel.
If you use a dual battery solar controller designed to charge 2 batteries independently, then at least 1 of them should not be connected to the system of your boat / vehicle, otherwise they will be in the same circuit and the dual battery solar controller won't work properly.
Solar Inverter is an electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).
Inverters are used to operate electrical equipment from the power produced by a car or boat battery or renewable energy sources, like solar panels or wind turbines. DC power is what batteries store, while AC power is what most electrical appliances need to run so an inverter is necessary to convert the power into a usable form. When converting the DC power generated from solar panels to AC power to feed the national grid, then you will need an inverter, which we called it solar inverter. According to the function of the solar inverter, there are two general types: on-grid inverter(also called grid-tie inverter) and off-grid inverter. Check our article about on-grid inverter and off-grid inverter.
Grid-tie inverters produce pure sine wave that is compatible with the alternating current waveform produced by your utility company. It takes the electricity generated by the renewable energy system and sends it to the power distribution panel in your home or office. The power generated by the solar panels system will be used within your home by loads. If there is more power than needed, it will feed the national grid and reverse the utility meter then cut your bill.
An off-grid inverter usually is used on backup battery supply and not being connected to the national grid. Some people apply this inverter to backup systems for home and business. It's also used in renewable energy solutions in remote locations such as a shed or cabin. For mobile inverters for use in RV's and boats, off-grid we sell is compatible with most 12V batteries, you can check more details on our off-grid inverter pages.
The common automobile batteries in which the electrodes are grids of metallic lead-containing lead oxides that change in composition during charging and discharging. The electrolyte is dilute sulfuric acid.
Even after over 100 years, the Lead-Acid battery is still the battery of choice for 99% of solar and backup power systems. With the better availability during the last few years of the new AGM batteries and the true deep-cycle batteries, we feel that there is little reason to use any other type.
The properties and benefits of having gel and AGM batteries are very similar, however there are some slight differences. AGM batteries are better for applications which sometimes require higher than average power consumption, while gel batteries are better in applications with steady or constant low-current discharge. Gel batteries have wider operating temperature range typically from -10C to +50C, while AGM batteries work best in temperatures from +10C to +40C. AGM batteries can accept slightly higher charging current so they can normally be charged a bit faster than gel batteries. AGM batteries also have slightly higher self-discharge rate, while gel batteries can be stored without topping up for longer. In terms of costs, gel batteries are typically more expensive.
Calcium batteries might have a slightly different design compared to normal lead acid batteries, but many calcium batteries do have the same charging requirements as normal lead-acid batteries. You should contact the manufacturer or supplier of your battery and check whether it can be charged by a charger designed for standard lead acid batteries, or if it requires special charging parameters (for example higher charging voltage) and therefore needs a special charger for calcium batteries.
No, unfortunately you can't. All our solar charging kits are designed for lead acid batteries. You will need a special charge controller for a lithium battery which we don't supply.
Deep-cycle batteries are designed with thicker, solid lead plates so they can be discharged to 80% DOD (Depth of Discharge). This makes them ideal for solar PV systems because they can provide more energy per a discharge cycle than a standard battery. Although they are meant to withstand deep-cycle discharges, the best cost effective method is to keep the average cycle at 50% discharge - this way you will make sure that the battery lasts longer.
Standard batteries are usually used as a starting battery for motorhomes or boats because they can supply a high influx of cranking amps quickly and are less expensive.
This will depend on how it is used, whether it is recharged regularly and not discharged excessively. The general principle is that the less the battery is discharged before recharging, the greater number of charge-discharge cycles it will have in its lifetime. For example, a battery which is regularly discharged by 80% (only 20% charge remaining) will have a much shorter lifespan compared to a battery which is discharged by only 30% (with 70% charge remaining).
Completely draining a battery might permanently reduce the total capacity. Some batteries (such as deep cycle) can tolerate this better, but it is still not healthy for them. Our advice is not to discharge your battery excessively and to recharge it as soon as possible, not leaving it discharged for a long time.
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